One of the biggest complaints we hear from clients, readers, and other business owners is the massive amount of time, effort, and resources that need to be poured into content marketing to make it really effective. Whether they’re coming to us because they’re tired of in-house efforts failing, or they’ve been working with another company who have failed to deliver a decent ROI, the issue remains the same: a truly effective content marketing strategy is a big investment, and if you don’t get it right, the return you see can be poor (or non-existent).
Yet in the modern digital age content is essential. The marketplace has shifted to the online sphere, giving rise to a need to optimise your business for search, reach everyone on mobile devices, and conquer the temperamental seas of social media.
There’s really no getting around it – your business needs to release regular, high-quality, high-value content in order to simply keep up, let alone compete and stand out.
Someone has to create that content, which mean you’re either spending a good wedge of time on it, or you’re paying someone else to do it for you.
Whichever way you slice it (and you can do either, or a mix of both depending on what suits you and your business), that’s an investment.
A BIG investment.
The Problem With Content Marketing And ROI…
Content marketing is capable of creating massive positive change in your business, however, it’s a long-game. Like all marketing it’s going to take at least three months before you really start to see any tangible results. Realistically, it’s more likely to be six months, and it will be a full year before you’re able to take a step back and say, “Wow. This is incredibly effective.”
That’s a long time to wait.
It’s a long time to keep the faith.
And it’s a hell of a lot of time/money to invest when you kinda feel like the whole thing might be a bit of a pipe dream.
We get it.
Really, we do.
There’s also the problem of how much you can inadvertently do wrong during that crucial initial period that undermines your efforts. Things like:
- Being inconsistent in your content creation.
- Creating banal content that’s the same as everything else out there.
- Failing to deliver tangible value.
- Not including content upgrades.
- Not including at least one big lead magnet.
- Not effectively getting your content out there using social media, networking, and paid advertising.
- Not following up with nurture sequences when people subscribe to your list.
- Not having a list and inbound funnel at all.
Basically, there are a plethora of ways you can ruin your content marketing strategy, and leave it kinda sorta working, but never really delivering that big return you’re looking for, to justify the amount you’ve invested in it.
It never quite lives up to your expectations.
And that sucks.
So if you’re struggling under the weight of a content strategy you feel isn’t worth the investment, or you’re looking to launch a new content-centric campaign and want to ensure it’s worth it, here’s how to get the best ROI from your content marketing…
How To Get The Best ROI From Your Content Marketing…
I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fanatic and, by and far, my favourite companion to date is Amelia Pond. I absolutely love Amy, Rory, Matt Smith’s Doctor and the insane wacky antics they get up to. Towards the end of their run, however, Amy and Rory had some spectacularly terrible episodes, one of which was called The Power of Three.
It never really went anywhere and was a total waste of an episode. In fact, most of the episodes for Amy and Rory’s final half-season were a shambles, leading me to the conclusion that sometimes, less is more.
This is certainly true of content marketing, but the reason may surprise you.
I’m not going to say you should blog less to get better results, because statistics clearly show the more you blog, the better your results will be. Nor am I going to say you should focus on writing lots of short posts rather than a few long ones, because long-form content is also proven to be more effective for content marketing.
So if less isn’t more in terms of length or frequency of blog posts, what am I babbling about?
Well, I call it The Power of One, because there are several things you need to be doing in your content marketing to maximise the return you get on your investment that require doing one thing spectacularly well…
One Content Schedule…
A lot of people approach content marketing the same way they approach any creative pursuit: they wing it.
Content requires you to write, which requires writing inspiration, so rather than plan a coherent content schedule, you might decide you’re going to blog once a week, fortnight, or month, and whenever the allotted time rolls around you sit down, and pen a post on whatever pops into your head.
Or whatever you’re currently trying to sell.
Or whatever happens to be trending on Twitter.
While there’s nothing technically wrong with doing this, failing to plan your blog schedule will cost you money. It will prevent you from optimising the subjects you choose, and delivering a content schedule that is as valuable as possible for your ideal clients.
Remember, your content isn’t about you.
Sorry, but it’s really not.
- Creating high-value posts that are going to be informative and helpful for your ideal client.
- Selling in a soulful way, rather than constantly pushing people to buy what you’re offering.
- Varying the topics you cover to avoid boring your audience to death by constantly retreading old ground. This makes damn sure they come back week after week.
- Promoting your business goals by educating your audience on the benefits and value of what you do.
- Establishing your expertise and distinguishing yourself as the go-to brand in your niche.
- Optimises your website for key search terms that will drive traffic, raise awareness, and boost leads and conversions.
That takes planning, and thought.
You should be creating a single content marketing schedule that factors in all your goals, promotions, offers, and the psychological needs and wants of your ideal client.
No pantsing it, no writing only when inspiration hits, about whatever happens to be inspiring you at the time, but a strategic effort to produce content that actually achieves your desired results.
One Business Objective…
You also need one single objective when it comes to your content.
You want a return on your investment (who doesn’t?), but you’re not going to get in unless you’re completely clear on exactly what form that return should take.
While the obvious answer is ‘make more money’ or ‘get more leads’, you need to be more specific. How exactly is your content marketing going to generate that cash? How will it attract more leads? And do you actually have a direct line between your content and your bottom line that allows you to assess how much of your income is being generated by your content?
One way to do it is to simply look at year-on-year or month-on-month revenue and assume that more money means it’s working, and less money means it isn’t. But there are so many other factors that can affect your income this simplistic was of looking at things is doing you a diservice. Your content marketing could be earning every penny you have coming in, while all the methods that previously generated revenue have stopped working completely. But because your turnover goes down one month, you stop your marketing, thinking it’s not working.
What you’ve actually done is cut out the one thing that was making you money.
So try to be more specific in your objective, and frame it with a measurable metric that will allow you to clearly see how much progress you’re making. Are you trying to:
- Build your list?
- Generate leads ahead of a launch?
- Launch a new product or service?
- Drive people to a particular social platform?
- Fill seats at an event?
ROI can be measured on list growth, on the leads generated by a launch, on the success of that launch, on the engagement on a particular social platform, or the number of people you attract to an event, as well as more obvious ways like website traffic, sales, etc. All of these things will ultimately lead to more money and more leads, but if you only measure your returns in terms of money and leads, you may well end up with a skewed picture of how effective your marketing efforts really are.
So pick a single objective and focus on that. Content marketing is fully capable of doing all these things for you, but if you try to get it to do all of them at once, it’s not going to do any of them as well as it could.
By doing one exceptionally well, and sticking to your plan for that goal for a good chunk of time, everything will work a lot better.
Rather than seeing a slight return in all areas, you’ll see a big return in the objective you decided to prioritise, and still get smaller returns in the other areas.
For example, if you’re trying to launch something new, your conversion process will almost certainly involving getting people to subscribe to your list, so they can go through your nurture sequence.
By focusing on the end goal of conversion you will better optimise all your content to prepare your audience to make that choice and buy. You can ensure every stage of your funnel is geared towards converting people for that single product or service.
Converting new clients is the ultimate objective, but a big side effect of that objective is growing your list.
You’ll also find that, while only a small percentage of your list converts immediately, some of the people who stay on the fence will convert further down the line. Knowing this, you can ensure effective follow up content is sent out to your subscribers that gently keep nudging them towards saying less.
If you don’t have anything specific to promote at the moment, your one objective might be to build your list ready for a time when you do. But if you’re launching something specific, you will need to build your list as part of that, and your content will be geared entirely towards educating people on the value of your product or service, and demonstrating exactly how it can solve their problem.
How it can end their pain.
A general list-building schedule is very different to a schedule designed to support the launch of one specific product or service.
Once you have your objective, it’s a really good idea to decide on a single focus for a set period of time.
We always suggest three to six months, and create content schedules in three, six or twelve month blocks for that reason. In fact, when we sign new clients on an SEO, blogging or content marketing retainer, they receive a full plan for the next few months. Once that’s agree, we stick to it.
This is the best way to get our clients to focus their content marketing on a specific goal or area, such as improving their search rankings, or promoting an offer.
It’s not unusual to have clients request generic schedules that try to focus on promoting ALL their products and services at once.
Having such fuzzy focus is never a good idea. This is particularly true if the ideal client for each product or service is different, because it means speaking to a different audience from one week to the next.
No segment of your audience gets the full benefit of your content marketing and your results are diluted as a result.
It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to target two different ideal clients on alternate weeks. It can work incredibly well. But the problem with having no focus is that you’re not consistently educating your tribe on any single thing. Over the course of a very long time you will end up with a stock of articles on a single topic, and they may be sold on the idea, but it will take you far longer than it would if you had one focus.
That doesn’t mean your content should discuss the same product week in and week out. But when creating your schedule for the next few months or year, having one clear objective, and one clear focus, means you end up with a coherent schedule that consistently supports both.
You may offer a range of products or services, but if you really want a good return on your investment you need to focus your content marketing on one goal at a time.
Every piece of content you create needs a call to action. Every call to action should call people to one single action.
Don’t tell them to signup for your freebie…and book a call…and head over to your Facebook group.
You’re just going to confuse them into inaction by giving them too many options.
Give them one choice, one option, one instruction.
Splitting the focus of any aspect of your content, whether it’s your topic, your objective, or your call to action, is going to dilute the results you see from it.
One Regular Affiliate System…
Aside from the structure of your content in terms of your schedule, objective, focus, and call to action, there are a few things we advise people to work into their content to help boost their ROI.
Affiliate marketing is one of those things, and while you can (and should!) work affiliate links into your content wherever relevant, having one affiliate system that you include on a regular basis is a really good idea.
My go-to for this is usually Amazon’s Affiliate programme. This allows you to recommend a really broad range of products and services through a single system. Best of all, it allows you to create really high-value content that positions you as a thought leader. Read books in your niche that your ideal clients will love, and offering an original take on them, with a strong CTA to buy the book through your Amazon affiliate links.
If you’re unsure about the thought of including book reviews in your content schedule, consider this: reviews are a very easy way of creating high-value content that your audience will find interesting, while giving them a break from thinking about buying your stuff.
That break is essential.
Reviews also allow you to earn passive income from your content, but in a very non-sleazy, soulful way, while simultaneously providing content your readers will find high-value and interesting.
You don’t have to use Amazon as your affiliate programme – if there are certain types of software, or other products and services you use a lot in your business, that are aligned with your brand values and you genuinely believe in, these will work just as well.
An affiliate system is effective, but generally only provide a small income stream – more of a trickle really. It’s nice to have, and tops up your returns, but unless you actively promote affiliate posts through ads, it’s unlikely to bring in the big bucks.
Advertising is an option, but as it costs you money, you’re left doing a balancing act.
Affiliate programmes are best left to work naturally in the background, and they work very well, but unless the products your recommending/reviewing are high-price items, they don’t bring in a lot.
They’re not supposed to, they’re there to give you a bit of a boost and help your content pay for itself.
Biggest Tip For Book Reviews…
Here’s one big tip for writing book reviews: you don’t have to be all positive, all the time. Just because you’re giving people the option to buy doesn’t mean you should be selling.
Be critical, challenge ideas you don’t agree with, and add your own thoughts and opinions.
A good book review is not a 500 word rant about how amazing a book is, regardless of what you actually think of it!
You’re not writing to sell, and you’re not writing the review for Amazon itself. You’re trying to use valuable books in your niche to create thought-provoking, actionable posts. Don’t think of reviews as ‘filler posts’ or quick content. They can actually more time consuming because you need to read the book!
One Evergreen Passive Income Product…
Speaking of passive income, having at least one passive income product that is directly available through your site is an absolute must if you want to get the most out of your content marketing.
Even if you have a service-based business it’s important to have virtual products available that your ideal clients can buy immediately.
They don’t need to be big or high-price ticket items. As long as you only need to create them once, and they can be bought an unlimited number of times, you can regularly work links to them into your content. You can devise content upgrades that naturally tie into them and entice people to signup for a freebie. Once they’ve subscribed have a powerful nurture sequence that leads people to buy your virtual product, then continues on to lead them into your paid services.
Without some form of evergreen passive income product worked into your content schedule, there is a ceiling when it comes to how much money you can earn off the back of it. Namely, your capacity and profit margins.
This is particularly true for service-based businesses.
Without at least one passive income product, you’re tied to a time-for-money model, and the most you can earn from your content marketing is the amount you can charge for your time.
Given how much time, effort, and resources need to go into an effective content marketing strategy, that’s simply never going to give you the level of ROI you want – not unless you’re charging £100s per hour, or have a value pricing model that enables you to charge based on the value you’re delivering, rather than the time you’re spending doing it.
Time-for-money pricing structures that lack a passive revenue stream put a great deal of stress on your business. You’re left frazzled, working every available hour, overbooking beyond your capacity to deliver, and constantly having to hire people so you can cover more work.
That MAY be a great thing for your business, but growth of that nature needs to be sustainable, and not a reaction to a sudden influx of leads.
A passive income product ensures you have a regular stream of scalable income that is directly tied to all your content.
The more effective your content marketing strategy is, the more you will sell.
If you’re unsure what you can create as a passive income product here are a couple of very popular suggestions…
Books are the perfect passive income product, especially if you’re new to passive income and daunted by the prospect. While you do have to invest time and resources into writing, editing, and proofreading them to a high professional standard, the cost of self-publishing is minimal and you have a product that’s immediately available.
The best part about business books is that if you are using an effective content marketing strategy for a year or more, you will naturally accumulate enough content to create a book.
When you’re planning your content settle on a theme, plan out the book’s chapters, and create content around those subjects so that in 12 months time, the bulk of the book is already written. Collect them all together, write and introductory and concluding chapter, give the rest a good edit and expand on key areas to ensure it’s structured into a coherent book. Proofread for a final polish and that’s all there is to it. You have a product that can be bought an unlimited number of times, with a built-in lead magnet in the form of the first chapter (or two, or three) that you can give away for free.
Alternatively you can create an entirely new piece of content by writing a whole book from scratch. Either way you will end up with an incredibly powerful brand asset and a new source of revenue.
And if you don’t fancy writing your own book, you can always hire a ghostwriter to do it for you…
Once you have a published book, turning it into an eCourse is a no-brainer. You already have the content there, you simply need to record it in video or audio form, and make some additions to add extra value. Expand on areas you only covered in brief, and create tutorials to demonstrate practical elements.
It’s a good idea to plan your book and course at the same time, even if it’s a while between releasing the book before you get to the course, or you release the course first and save the book for later.
Remember, a book is low-price buy in point that can easily be upsold to the course version, so the course must be of considerably higher value than the book. It’s useful to know, as you’re writing your book, that this is the plan so you can decide what to leave out of the book – a good rule of thumb is to hold back advanced elements so the book acts as an introduction to your topic, or a beginner’s level entry point.
Loads of businesses have huge success with the book/eCourse model of passive income. One of my business idols, Denise Duffield Thomas built her entire multi-million dollar business off the back of her book-turned-course. She now offers other courses and is releasing more books, and no longer trades her time for money at all, aside from occasional speaking gigs and special events.
Alternatively, if a book isn’t really your jive, skip it entirely and jump straight into the creation of an eCourse.
The Easy Way To Maximise Your ROI…
Desperate to see great returns on your marketing investments? Loving the idea of setting up some passive income products for your business, but have no idea where to start? You’re in the right place. At Acrylic we specialise in content marketing services for businesses in Northwich and the surrounding areas of Cheshire. We’re here to create bespoke strategies, and have our own tame ghostwriter and award-winning author (#HumbleBrag) to pen the perfect book or eCourse to help you maximise the ROI you see from your content marketing.
Book a free, no obligation consultation today to find out how we can establish some passive income streams for your business, and really maximise the ROI you’re getting on all that lovely content…
Our Head of Marketing, Hazel Butler, is an award-winning author, copywriter, and editor. Part ghostwriter, part blogger, part videographer, and part strategist, when she’s not endlessly penning content for our clients Hazel’s happily concocting the perfect marketing plans to propel their businesses forward.
Get to know her...